From left, Cariboo Regional District Area A Director Mary Sjostrom, cheese producer Florian Bergoin of Kersley, provincial Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson and Lhtako Dene Chief Clifford LeBrun pose for a photo following Popham’s announcement that the Province is committing up to $500,000 to develop a regional food hub in Quesnel. Popham made the announcement July 31 at the College of New Caledonia Quesnel Campus. Lindsay Chung photo

RANCH MUSINGS: Quesnel regional food hub and cattle prices

It is not only the weather and unharvested hay that is on rancher’s minds in this season

It is not only the weather and unharvested hay that is on ranchers’ minds in this season.

Prices, of course, and beating the break-even price for product, is the other main focus.

One way of overcoming a market price problem for primary products like beef on the hoof or even cut and wrapped by the side or quarter, is to add value and sell further processed product.

This brings me to the main topic of this article. It starts with a strong compliment to the agriculture sector in the Quesnel area on the half million dollar announcement a few weeks ago by Lana Popham, the minister of agriculture on a regional food hub for the area.

A further note of congratulations should go to the producers and the local government, both City and Mayor Simpson, and the northern regional directors for the Cariboo Regional District.

This kind of support is critical to the success of many agriculture and economic initiatives.

The other kind of support is from citizens and consumers in the local areas willing to support local food production with their hard-earned dollars.

If we want food security, then we must be willing to buy local, even if it costs a bit more. You can bet on freshness and quality and you know the money you spend on product gets recycled in the local economy several times.

READ MORE: Ranching as a life long learning and making a difference

Of course, the provincial government has to be there for financial support for these kinds of collective actions by the local community. Money spent on public facilities and programs should come from the public purse. At least some of it should.

A few years ago, the 100 Mile area, under the leadership of then Mayor Donna Barnett, sought to do something like this. In my opinion, this initiative around an agriculture development centre failed in that producers and local government were not able to muster the collaboration and entrepreneurship to make it happen.

Sustaining this support will be necessary for the Quesnel initiative to be a success. The announcement says the North Cariboo has 1,600 producers. I think this includes a wide area and producers south and north will need to turn to this facility for assistance.

The services to be provided at the food hub are: food and beverage processing facilities, specialized equipment and technology, research and development and business expertise.

With only 23 per cent of the 1,600 producers selling directly to consumers and only nine per cent adding value, this looks like a growth sector. Let’s make it so. The buck in this case stops with entrepreneurs willing to make the effort to create new, local products.

On another positive note, cattle prices are holding, or are slightly up over earlier this year, well above the break-even price for the primary product of most producers in the region which are the thousand-plus cattle producers.

For my part, I am still trying to get on the hayfields that are” blessed” with abundant sub-irrigation water. This is a more positive challenge than the curse of drought, but only a little better.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Barkerville set to re-open in phases

Accomodations, shops, restaraunts to open June 18, exhibits and public programming July 3

P.G.’s Barb Ward-Burkitt named new chair of Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women

A survivor of domestic abuse herself, Ward-Burkitt has served as vice-chair since 2018

Williams Lake aims to hire own archaeologist

Mayor Walt Cobb said the hope is archaelogical assessments will be done in a timely fashion

Williams Lake teens organize protest in support of Black Lives Matter

Everyone is welcome to join in the protest which will get underway at 2 p.m.

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Limit gun capacity to five bullets, victims group urges Trudeau government

Current limits are generally five bullets for hunting rifles and shotguns and 10 for handguns.

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Most Read